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Can Diabetes be Cured? Latest Information You Need To Know

Can Diabetes be Cured? Latest Information You Need To Know

  By: Editors at DiabetesIQ  |  Published: January 04, 2021   
Published: January 04, 2021   

Can Diabetes be Cured? Latest Information You Need To KnowCan Diabetes be Cured? Latest Information You Need To Know
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Diabetes is a very serious chronic disease that grows at worrying pace around the world. In the Unites States alone diabetes affects over 34 million people and the number of people diagnosed with the disease has more than doubled in the last 20 years. It is also the number 1 cause of blindness in adults, as well as of lower-limb amputations and kidney failure. Not surprisingly, the first question that comes to people’s minds when talking about disease is “Is diabetes curable?” The answer to this question is not as straightforward as people would like it to be and it is based on what the word “cure” means when it comes to diabetes. But the first important thing is to understand what diabetes really is.

There are two major types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which pancreas either produces insufficient amount of insulin or stops producing insulin completely. That happens because the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys beta cells responsible for making insulin in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone required to help glucose get from your blood into your body’s cells to produce energy. Glucose is sugar that your body gets from the food you eat. Without insulin, glucose cannot pass into your body’s cells and gets accumulated in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Type 1 diabetes mostly affects children and teenagers.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in which the way the body processes insulin is affected. Pancreas of people with type 2 diabetes produces insulin, but the cells in the body are unable to absorb it properly, which causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. Ultimately, the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin decreases and the body’s cells do not get enough glucose. Instead, glucose also gets accumulated in the blood, which causes high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in adults.

Although having any of the two types of diabetes comes out to having high blood sugar, the causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very different. As a result, each type of diabetes is to be addressed differently. Unfortunately, as of right now, there is no ‘magic pill’ that can eliminate type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but each type can be effectively managed.

People with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin because their body destroys the ability to create it. Nevertheless, they can live relatively normal lives controlling the disease with insulin injections. People with type 1 diabetes can learn how quickly insulin starts working in the body and the period of time it stays active. That will help make proper adjustments and achieve optimal quality of life.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, if it was caught in an early stage, the effect of the disease can potentially be fully reversed with a strict diet and regular exercise regimen in place. Even when type 2 diabetes is well established, for many people it can still be successfully managed with a balanced diet and exercising. It doesn’t mean that such measures will make type 2 diabetes disappear completely if it was diagnosed in a later stage, but the right approach to the disease may have its symptoms go into remission.


The absence of a ‘total cure’ for diabetes may sound like the end of the world for some people. Mostly because the disease does affect many aspects of their lives from the day they get diagnosed. However, when people get diabetes under control with proper actions, they can live long, normal, happy life.


Pre-Diabetes

Prediabetes is a serious medical condition and a clear warning sign that type 2 diabetes might become a part of your life if you do not take preventive measures to avert or postpone the disease. Prediabetes means that your blood glucose (blood sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough for type 2 diabetes. Having type 2 diabetes means that the cells in your body are unable to normally absorb insulin and your body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that your body needs to help glucose (sugar) get from your blood into your body’s cells to make energy. If not enough glucose gets from your blood into your body’s cells, the cells cannot produce enough energy for proper functioning.

Symptoms of diabetes usually develop over the course of several years and people with prediabetes condition may have no clear symptoms at all. However, risk factors that may contribute to developing prediabetes are the same as the ones for type 2 diabetes. Those risk factors include: having family history of diabetes, having little or no physical activity, being overweight or obese, having a history of heart disease or stroke, being a smoker, having high blood pressure, having obstructive sleep apnea, being 45 years of age or older, having a high level of triglycerides or a low level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, having polycystic ovary syndrome, and having a history of gestational diabetes.

If you have one or several of these risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor and get necessary tests done to determine your condition. The doctor may suggest to test your blood sugar level, which is a good practice to do every three years if you are 45 years of age or older, since the risk of developing prediabetes and, subsequently, type 2 diabetes rises as you get older. There are two tests either of which, or both, your doctor may perform to diagnose your condition: Fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) that is taken in the morning, after overnight  fasting (for at least 8 hours) and Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) that is also done after 8 hours of fasting, after which blood sugar is measured two hours after you drink 75 grams of glucose.

It is in your best interest to have your blood sugar tested early instead of waiting for any symptoms to appear because unlike type 2 diabetes, prediabetes is reversible. However, if kept untreated, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes that may lead to very serious complications, such as nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), heart disease, stroke, feet damage that can cause amputation, eye damage, skin infections, and Alzheimer’s disease.

By successfully treating prediabetes, you are closing the door for type 2 diabetes to enter your life. However, you will have to go through some long-term lifestyle changes to succeed in avoiding type 2 diabetes. You have to reassess your diet, including in it more protein and fiber, while avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat. You will need to incorporate exercise in your daily routine because your body utilizes more glucose when you exercise, naturally lowering your blood sugar. You should also consider losing a few pounds if you are overweight. And if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes and there is a concern that your chance of developing type 2 diabetes is very high, your doctor might recommend you to take a diabetes prevention medication, metformin, that will help your body maintaining better blood glucose level by keeping your liver from producing more glucose than you need.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease and a chronic medical condition, in which pancreas produces insufficient amount of insulin or does not produce insulin at all because the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys beta cells, which are responsible for making insulin in the pancreas.

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to help glucose get from your blood into your body’s cells to produce energy. Glucose is sugar that your body gets from the food you eat. Because in type 1 diabetes your body is incapable of processing glucose due to lack or absence of insulin, the glucose cannot pass into your body’s cells and gets accumulated in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, health issues.

Type 1 diabetes was formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes because it is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults and because people with type 1 diabetes must get insulin injections or use insulin pumps, which automatically deliver insulin, for the rest of their lives.

It can take from several months to several years to get a critical number of beta cells destroyed before type 1 diabetes symptoms become noticeable. Those symptoms may include excessive hunger, extreme thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, dry mouth and skin, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, and unexplained weight loss.

Although, despite continuous research, the specific cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown, scientists believe that it can be caused by genes. Scientists discovered that type 1 diabetes can develop in people, who have a specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex – the complex of antigens that trigger an immune response in the body. Besides, type 1 diabetes is also believed to be triggered by viruses and other environmental factors.

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood sugar level, while also taking into consideration your age and symptoms. The blood tests include Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test that is taken in the morning after overnight fasting; Oral Glucose Tolerance test (OGTT), when blood sugar is measured two hours after you drink 75 grams of glucose; Random blood glucose test; and Hemoglobin A1C (glycohemoglobin) test that measures the average glucose level over the period of past 2-3 months. Besides, test can be done on your urine for glucose and for chemicals that your body produces when your insulin level is insufficient.

If you get diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is crucial to take all necessary steps to properly manage it. That mostly involves controlling your blood sugar because high blood sugar can damage various parts of your body and cause disabling or even life-threatening complications, including increased risk of heart attack, blood vessel disease, pregnancy complications, neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney damage), eye damage (including blindness), and feet damage that can cause amputation.

Nevertheless, people with type 1 diabetes can leave a long, healthy life if they manage the disease right. You will have to regularly check your blood sugar, take insulin injections daily or wear an insulin pump, and also maintain healthy lifestyle, which means practicing healthy eating habits, having regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, managing stress, monitoring your eyes, skin, and feet, and controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure. You will also need to regularly meet with your healthcare providers to make sure that you are doing everything right and to get necessary guidance and support whenever needed.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition and the most common type of diabetes that affects the way your body processes insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that your body needs to help glucose get from your blood into your body’s cells to produce energy. Glucose is sugar that your body gets from the food you eat.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes insulin, but the cells in your body are unable to absorb it properly, which causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. Eventually, the ability of your pancreas to produce insulin decreases. Because of that, your body cells do not get enough glucose and consequently, do not receive a sufficient amount of energy required for proper functioning.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes because the disease was mostly diagnosed in adults and the patients usually did not need insulin injections to manage their condition. These definitions are now considered inaccurate because doctors have commonly diagnosed type 2 diabetes in children and insulin is often required to manage the disease.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but they develop rather slowly and they are often mild enough to be easily disregarded for years. The symptoms include excessive hunger and thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, dry mouth, itchy skin, slow healing wounds, unexplained weight loss, numbness in your hands or feet, frequent infections, and dark rash around your armpits and neck.

The exact reason why human body stops processing insulin normally and becomes insulin resistant is unknown, but genes and certain risk factors may contribute to developing type 2 diabetes. Those risk factors include having little or no physical activity, being overweight or obese, having a history of heart disease or stroke, having high blood pressure, being 45 years of age or older, having a high level of triglycerides or a low level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, having polycystic ovary syndrome, and having a history of gestational diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, which means that the longer a person has it unattended, the higher the chance that the patient will be needing insulin over time to manage blood glucose level. That is why early diagnosis is very important. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by the following tests: Fasting blood sugar test that measures how much glucose is in your plasma and is taken after at least 8 hours of fasting; Random blood sugar (glucose) test; A1C (glycated hemoglobin) test that measures the average glucose level over the period of past 2-3 months; and Oral glucose tolerance test, which is most commonly used during pregnancy.

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you need to take it under control to avoid complications because otherwise the disease can affect all organs of the body. Complications may include cardiovascular diseases, nerve damage, kidney damage, poor blood circulation to your feet, retinal damage, fungal or bacterial infections, and sleep apnea.

When it comes to management of type 2 diabetes, the ideal scenario is to prevent it from happening. Although you cannot do anything about your age or genetics, a diet that is low on sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fatty meats, as well as getting regular exercise and implementing proper weight management strategy, can help you keep your blood sugar level within the healthy limits and lower your chances of getting the disease.

People with type 2 diabetes should follow the guideline for type 2 diabetes prevention as well. They also have to closely monitor their blood sugar by checking it multiple times a day and take diabetes medications or insulin therapy if they are unable to maintain proper blood sugar level with just diet and exercise. Besides, type 2 diabetes patients have to daily check their feet for sores, cuts, blisters, and swelling, have regular eye checkups, and look after their skin. It is also beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes to stay informed about advancements in diabetes treatments by participating in diabetes education programs and work with their doctors, nutritionists, and pharmacists to come up with the most optimal treatment plan.

Type 3 Diabetes

Type 3 diabetes is a term that has been proposed by researchers to describe the association of diabetes with Alzheimer's disease, which develops when neurons in the brain become resistance to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that your body needs to help glucose get from your blood into your body’s cells to produce energy. While muscle cells have an ability to utilize glucose and fats to fuel their activity, brain cells get their energy solely from glucose. In type 3 diabetes, neurons (the brain cells) do not get enough energy, which causes the brain to become unable to properly perform a number of cognitive functions, including memory, attention, concentration, organization, self-monitoring, awareness, alertness, decision-making, motor skills, and speaking. The progressive reduction in performing these functions characterizes Alzheimer’s disease.

The symptoms of type 3 diabetes are those found in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They include memory loss that affects social interactions and disrupts daily life, challenges in making judgements based on information, trouble performing familiar tasks, often getting confused about dates, names, and places, having vision problems, misplacing things, having difficulties finding the right words when speaking or writing, experiencing personality and mood changes and difficulties in problem solving.

People have a higher chance to develop type 3 diabetes when they have type 2 diabetes. So type 2 diabetes risk factors can also be relevant for type 3 diabetes and include the following: genes, having little or no physical activity, being overweight or obese, having a history of heart disease or stroke, having high blood pressure, being 45 years of age or older, having a high level of triglycerides or a low level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, having polycystic ovary syndrome, and having a history of gestational diabetes.

Diagnosis of type 3 diabetes is different from diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in that there are no specific tests for type 3 diabetes. Diagnosis can be made based on a patient’s medical history, a neurological examination (to identify if the nervous system has been affected), and neurophysiological testing, such as DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging), which is performed to detect abnormalities in the brain tissue.

As opposed to diagnosis techniques, the prevention strategy for type 3 diabetes is rather similar to the one for type 2 diabetes. It should incorporate a healthy diet with plenty of protein and fiber and without saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods; regular exercise of moderate intensity that combines strength training, cardio exercise, and swimming; maintenance of healthy weight; and careful monitoring of blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Besides, mental exercise that includes reading, memory games and puzzles, and engaging in artistic activity, as well as implementation of stress management, quality sleep, and socializing with people, also play an important role in prevention of type 3 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, also known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), is a medical condition that some women develop during pregnancy (gestation). The condition is associated with having higher than normal blood sugar level that usually shows up between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.

Similarly to other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs when the cells in your body are unable to process insulin normally and your body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that your body needs to help glucose (sugar) get from your blood into your body’s cells to make energy. During pregnancy, your placenta produces large amount of hormones that are necessary to sustain your pregnancy, but also cause sugar to build up in your blood. Normally, insulin takes care of the situation, helping sugar to get into your body cells. However, if pancreas does not produce enough insulin or your body cells stop absorbing insulin properly, the level of sugar in your blood rises, which triggers development of gestational diabetes that may affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby as well.

Although in most cases women with gestational diabetes do not have any symptoms of the disease, there is a number of risk factors for gestational diabetes. Women, who do not have those factors, can also develop gestational diabetes, but women, who do have one or more of the risk factors, have a higher chance of getting gestational diabetes. The risk factors include: having a family history of diabetes, being overweight during pregnancy or before, having high blood pressure, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the past, having prediabetes, previously having a baby over 9 pounds, expecting more than one baby, having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), being physically inactive, and having a history of heart disease.

Having gestational diabetes does not necessarily mean that you had diabetes before getting pregnant or that you will continue having diabetes after pregnancy, but it is still a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Besides, if gestational diabetes is left unattended or poorly managed, it can also raise your child’s risk of developing diabetes and increase the risk of complications for you and your baby during pregnancy and childbirth, including stillbirth, birth trauma, labor difficulties, cesarean delivery, heavy post-delivery bleeding, and severe vaginal tear. That is why it is important to diagnose and treat gestational diabetes as early as possible.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with two tests. Sometimes, doctors start with glucose challenge test that involves drinking a sugar solution followed by a blood test in an hour. If the test result is unsatisfactory, your doctor might perform Oral Glucose Tolerance test (OGTT), when blood sugar is measured two hours after you drink an even sweeter glucose solution than the one provided for glucose challenge test. In some cases, doctors only perform Oral Glucose Tolerance test. This test can be done with and without prior fasting.

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should address it as soon as possible to bring your blood sugar level under control, keep your baby and yourself in good health during pregnancy and delivery, and avoid potential complications associated with gestational diabetes. This can be achieved by maintaining a healthy, low-sugar diet and by incorporating exercise in your daily routine because your body uses more glucose when you exercise, naturally lowering your blood sugar. In some cases, insulin injections might also be needed to control blood sugar during pregnancy.

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